MDA has awarded a research grant totaling $202,222 over two years to David Lynch, professor of neurology at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The funds will help support Lynch's study of the relationship between diabetes and Friedreich's ataxia (FA).
Some individuals with FA develop severe cardiomyopathy (heart disease), while others also may develop diabetes and a resistance to the effects of the hormone insulin, Lynch said, noting "This phenomenon may have implications for the overall progression of FA and the mechanisms involved in causing the disease."
Lynch and colleagues plan to examine the relative likelihood of people with FA to develop diabetes. The team will use measurements of blood sugar and blood insulin levels to assess which features of FA make a particular individual more likely to have abnormal insulin resistance.
The team will work to identify specific genes that contribute to abnormal insulin resistance in FA and also determine whether frataxin, the protein that is deficient in FA, contributes to the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.
The MDA grant will “support development of the collaborative group of individuals who will contribute to this project, which leverages previous data also developed with MDA support," Lynch said.
Funding for this MDA grant began August 1, 2011.